Karen Lystra


oice: 657-278-3860
Fax: 657-278-5820
Dept: 657-278-2441


Cal State University, Fullerton American Studies
800 N. State College Blvd. GH-313 Fullerton, CA. 92831

Karen Lystra, Ph. D

Emeritus Professor of American Studies




1973, Ph.D, Case Western Reserve University


Gender and Sexuality; Family History; Cultural Theory



Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years (University of California Press, 2006)

A book utilizing three crucial sources: the diaries of Jean Clemens, Mark Twain's youngest daughter; the diaries of his surrogate wife and secretary, Isabel Lyon; and an unpublished 450 page manuscript written by Twain to untangle the web of lying, deceit, and betrayal that surrounded the last years of his life.

Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America. (Oxford University Press, 1989; paperback, 1992)

A history of the private, intimate reality of nineteenth-century American Victorians, emphasizing the male as well as female role and analyzing evidence of the intellectual and emotional life of both sexes as they interacted together. Using manuscript letters, the sexual values and behavior of mainstream Americans in the nineteenth century are compared to public advice of the time as well as current historiography. Topics include letter-writing and reading, courtship, marriage, male and female sex roles, and the ideology and practice of romantic love. The neglected role of romantic love in the development of American society and culture is a major interpretive theme of the volume. Evidence is presented on the contribution of romantic love to American individualism, secularization, and the movement toward male-female equality.

" Clifford Geertz and the Concept of Culture" Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies, Jack Salzman, ed., vol. 8 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 31-47.

Book Reviews
Review of Lois Palken Rudnick, Mabel Dodge Luhan: New Woman, New Worlds.Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984, in The Western Historical Quarterly 17 (January, 1986), 79-80.

Review essay of Maxine L. Margolis, Mothers and Such: Views of American Women and Why They Changed. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984, in Huntington Library Quarterly 49 (Autumn 1986), 423-427.

Review of James Woodress, Willa Cather: A Literary Life in The Western Historical Quarterly 22(May 1990), 246-248.

Review of Elaine Showalter, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Sieclein Archives of Sexual Behavior: An Interdisciplianry Research Journal 22 (Dec. 1993), 647-650.

Review of Marilyn Holt, The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in America in Montana: The Magazine of Western History 44(Winter 1994), 78-80.

Featured Review of Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African American Voices in American Historical Review (December 1993), 1559-1561.